The European Union has decided to place sanctions on the import of oil from Iran. The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union has decided to impose an import ban on crude oil from Iran as well as a freeze on the assets of the Iranian Central Bank within the EU. Australia has opted to mirror this sanction and encourage other countries to do so as well.
Meanwhile, British, French and US warships have been moved into the Straits of Hormuz to defend a potential choke point in oil exports from other countries, notably Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Straits have a coastline along Iran.
In the UK parliament, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague said:
“Iranian Vice President Rahimi was reported as saying in December that “if sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz”. However it must be borne in mind that 95% of Iran’s oil exports, representing over 80% of its foreign earnings, transit the Strait of Hormuz. It is very much against Iran’s interests to seek to close the Strait to oil exports.
“Britain maintains a constant presence in the region as part of our enduring contribution to Gulf security. The Royal Navy has been conducting such patrols since 1980.
“At the weekend HMS Argyll and a French vessel joined a U.S. carrier group transiting through the Strait of Hormuz. This was a routine movement but it underlined the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law. Any attempt by Iran to block the Strait would be both illegal and unsuccessful.”
At the same time the EU’s foreign affairs representative, Catherine Ashton, met with Israeli leaders to discuss the two state solution between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli Prime Minister said of the new sanctions:
“Today the EU has decided to impose sanctions on the export of petroleum from Iran. I think that this is a step in the right direction. True, it is still impossible to know what the result of these sanctions will be. Very strong and quick pressure on Iran is necessary. Sanctions will have to be evaluated on the basis of results. As of today, Iran is continuing to develop nuclear weapons without hindrance.”
The IEAE has not yet found any evidence of a nuclear weapons program, rather it issued warnings about its inability to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.